police spokeswoman

Police Arrest Person of Interest in Deaths of 3 Children, 2 Adults

A person of interest in a Modesto homicide that left five people dead on Saturday was arrested outside a San Jose mall early Sunday morning, police said.

According to Modesto spokeswoman Heather Graves, Martin Martinez was captured by the San Jose Police Department and booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of murder.

Modesto officers responding to a request to conduct a welfare check at the home on the 2600 block of Nob Hill Court discovered the bodies at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Graves said. 

The five victims are related to one another and they are all females, she said. The three children ranged from 6 months to 6 years old.

Graves noted that Martinez and one of the victims had previously been in a relationship. One of the children was his, she added.

Police are not yet identifying the victims or disclosing the cause of death or a motive, Graves said.

A chaplain was present at the Modesto scene Sunday to "console" the victims' family members, neighbors and also police officers, Graves said.

“It’s devastating,” she noted. “It’s devastating not only to the families of the victims but to the neighbors here as well to our law enforcement community. I mean we go in there — the officers that had to discover that tragic scene, [it] definitely takes a toll on their bodies.”

Modesto police on Saturday evening alerted the San Jose Police Department about Martinez who was believed to be driving to the city in a red Lincoln Navigator SUV, police said.

At about 9:58 p.m., San Jose officers found the SUV sitting unoccupied on the 2400 block of Lucerne Way. A follow-up investigation revealed that Martinez was not at the Lucerne Way property and had departed with a family member before police got there.

Based on this information, police realized that Martinez was traveling in a different — but still unidentified — vehicle.

At about 12:47 a.m. Sunday, San Jose police located the car in question empty in the Westfield Oakridge mall's parking lot. Officers were able to apprehend Martinez without incident at roughly 1 a.m. as he returned to the car.

Meanwhile, Connie Lycan, 59, who lives a block away from the victims' Modesto house, said she moved to the neighborhood when it was new and considered to be quiet.

"Well it was quiet," Lycan said. "No place is safe anymore."

The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.

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